If the wild, wild west of TikTok intimidates you a little, raise your hand 👋 (Psst – that’s why we had put together this handy TikTok guide!)

Sure, TikTok is crowned as the digital home of Generation Z – eccentric dances and lip-syncing to popular songs are a common sight on the video-only platform, while its audience is rising as quickly as the trends that pop up on the app.

But TikTok is not the only popular video frontier businesses can take advantage of, even though it’s pretty, shiny and new.

đź‘‹ Enter: Instagram Reels

Instagram Reels is the video feature on Instagram that provides similar tools to TikTok for content creation and sharing. Reels launched in August 2020 and is Instagram’s answer to video content skyrocketing in popularity among the app’s 1 billion (and counting) users.

🎥 Video creation couldn’t get any easier

Reels differs from IGTV, another video-first initiative from Instagram, by allowing users to record and edit 15-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects, and creative tools right within the app.

Reels are super intuitive if you’re already familiar with Instagram’s creation experience, and you don’t have to get too fancy with editing if you want to keep it simple, either.

Updates are also consistently being made to Reels by Instagram, with the latest being that businesses can now access the performance and audience statistics of their Reels. The number of plays and accounts that a Reel has reached are significant benchmarks for companies looking to grow their audience and presence on social media.  

Being able to push out video content without leaving the app is a major perk for businesses relying on Instagram to advertise their products. But how do you use Reels effectively as a business? And what can businesses gain from adopting this content format?

Don’t worry if you don’t have the answers yet – we’re here to help your brand lay out the groundwork! In this post, you’ll hear expert insights on navigating Instagram Reels from Brittany Cunningham, director of Collab Chat.

Q&A with Brittany Cunningham

Brittany Cunningham is the director of Collab Chat, specializing in high-end, strategic, and personal branding and media kits. As an educator and creative entrepreneur, she harnesses the power of social media to create engaging and viral content through Instagram Reels.

Why did Facebook launch Reels, and what advantages do early adopters of this new feature receive? Do these videos get more organic reach than a typical Instagram post?

Instagram launched Reels as a direct response to the rapid rise and success of viral video platform TikTok. It was clear to see users loved the innovative, fast pace - often funny and impromptu - style of short video sharing.

Not only that – but TikTok was offering something Instagram was not: the opportunity to go viral.

Reach and growth have been notoriously difficult on Instagram for the last few years. And users looking to grow a following began loudly expressing their frustration with the platform.

Instagram soon felt the pressure, and they had to make some drastic changes in response. Obviously, they responded with Reels, and changes to the algorithm.

Early adopters will reap the benefits of Reels, experiencing strong reach and the opportunity for rapid audience growth.

Reels also have a longer lifespan than traditional Instagram posts, meaning they can continue attracting likes, views and followers for weeks after they’re posted.

What can incorporating Reels do for brands and their Instagram pages?

Instagram has made it clear that Reels will be the most prioritized content in-feed moving forward, so by incorporating Reels into your strategy you’re giving yourself the best chance to reach new people, and convert them into either followers or customers.

Reels also present you with an amazing opportunity to share your ethos and the personality behind your brand.

Some effective ideas for businesses can include: packing orders; a day in your workspace; the creative process for product/service; how to use your product/service; skits that address customer’s FAQs; addressing issues or misconceptions; meet the team; your growth story; before and afters; etc.

What kind of content works well on Reels – especially for smaller businesses who want to increase brand visibility and get themselves or their products seen?

The types of Reels you make will inevitably vary depending on your business, product or service, and the creative minds behind the content. But generally, the fundamentals are the same & many of the trends overlap.

Successful Reels usually hook their viewers in early, have a twist (the “wow or shock” factor), are snappy and to the point - many successfully using trends, transitions, and/or are inspirational, educational, provide value, or hacks to the audience.

Jumping on trends early is also an effective method to enhance your engagement.

The best way to establish the direction you’re going to take with it is by engaging with *your* community on Reels.

Check out Brittany's most popular Reel on Instagram!

When you’re active and engaged with Reels, you’ll soon see what is trending amongst people in your wider network. By finding out what is controversial, topical, trending, talked about, you’ll be able to intuitively catch trends and jump on topics early – which all help towards engagement & growth.  

I like to think of this time as “research,” as I am consciously scrolling Reels with purpose and intent to find trends and audio that will work for me.

What are 3 features, trends or video styles on Reels that you think businesses can use to their advantage?

Creating Reels within the Instagram interface: Instagram has indicated content will be favored if users maximize the in-built features. The interface is easy to navigate if you know how – and it makes life a little easier than relying on a host of third party apps. (Check out my new Ultimate Reels Masterclass if you need a little help!).

Using trending audios: whether it is trending “skit” audio, or trending music, these give your Reel an advantage when it comes to your potential reach.

Using transitions effectively: Transitions hook the viewer in, encourage a longer watch time, and increase your re-watch rate.

What demographic consumes and responds to Reels the best?

We still have limited insights into this area. Obviously younger users will always adapt to new tech and features quickly, but from my experience Millennials and Gen X are not only loving the Reels – but they’re nailing them too.  

What’s your advice for Millennials on getting comfortable with this new format and learning a thing or two from Generation Z?

Believe in yourself, believe in your own abilities. Try not to get in your head too much; or worry what people might think. And practice, practice practice. Practice makes progress, and done is better than perfect.

Why should businesses utilize Reels over TikTok? Or should they be on both?

This really depends on each business’ capacity to show up and share. If you’ve got a whole team making content, you may be able to repurpose content across both platforms. However, if you’re a smaller business or a solopreneur, you may find more success in concentrating your strategy into one platform.

What is the ideal content output on Reels? How much time should businesses dedicate to their Reels content per week?

Ideally, you’ll be posting Reels 3 to 4 times per week minimum as the algorithm is easily favoring this content and we’ve never had an opportunity to grow this fast on Instagram. But even if you just manage one per week while you’re getting the hang of it… one is better than none!

To recap: your top do’s and don’ts for brands on Reels as a platform?

Get to know the Reels interface, this is key for finding trends and audios that fit your brand.

Research what is trending within your wider network and hop on trends early with your own unique spin.

Believe in yourself. The more Reels you make the better you get, and the faster you grow. You got this!

And if you’re ready to upskill, I cover turning your frustration & overwhelm into confidence & creativity in my Ultimate Reels Masterclass.

Wrapping it up 📲

So there you have it! Give Instagram Reels your best shot and follow Brittany’s tips and tricks to put out some stellar video clips for your business. Remember to keep at it and stay true to your branding as you unleash your inner content creator. Happy filming!

If you want more ideas on how to hack Reels from Brittany, be sure to check out her Instagram!

Diving deeper into the world of social media? Take a look at our beginner’s social media marketing guide, and keep up to date with the latest inspiration and how-to’s on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.